Do you know how easy it is to not promote antisemitism? If you’re even uncertain as to whether a tweet or a message of any kind would be controversial and alienate the Jewish people, Google it. Give a little bit of effort. And Kyrie Irving didn’t do that, or didn’t care to. And both are awful.
In now-deleted messages on his social media, Irving promoted the book and documentary Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America, which pushes several lies about the Jewish people and their mistreatment of people of color. Rolling Stone states the film and text are “stuffed with antisemitic tropes” and equates itself with the Black Hebrew Israelites, a group with a long history of sexism, racism, and most frequently antisemitism. A former Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan once described the group as their Black counterparts.
Irving hasn’t stated why he deleted the messages, beyond the obvious idiocy of the post and public pressure to not be an outed bigot. Brooklyn Nets owner Jose Tsai did issue a statement on Friday condemning his guard’s decision to promote the antisemitic projects. It’s the latest example of hatred toward Jewish people getting a louder voice from celebrities in recent weeks, joining Kanye West and Jason Whitlock.
“The Brooklyn Nets strongly condemn and have no tolerance for the promotion of any form of hate speech,” the team said in a statement Friday.
There are two major problems with the frequency of antisemitism from athletes or other famous people involved in sports having an uptick. They’re either of the groupthink mentality where to fit in with the crowd, it’s better to push what others are saying instead of standing up for what’s right. The uglier part of that pair is these lies being adopted with no falsehoods attached to them. The Irvings and Whitlocks of the world projecting them as fact is and has always been harmful to the Jewish people. The Anti-Defamation League, whose mission is to stop the mistreatment of Jewish people and provide equal treatment for all, found 2,717 antisemitism events in 2021, a 34 percent increase from 2020. That averages to more than seven such incidents per day.
Irving’s been labeled with certain theories he’s pushed for years as a “free thinker” and that’s fine if his thoughts aren’t dangerous to others. His long refusal to take the coronavirus vaccine was always beyond comprehension. But the dangers of being unvaccinated mostly affected those within the Nets’ organization. Now the hatred of an entire group of people is a whole different story. More than 10 percent of the world’s Jewish population lives in the New York metropolitan area, where you suit up for home games. And Irving went out of his way to degrade them.